Thursday, February 20, 2014

Marked by Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend, and Kit Rocha

Three stories of passion, possession, and ink.

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch -- the man she loved four years before. While she's not sure she's cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up. (Metamorphosis Series, #1)

Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he's not giving up until she's his. (Thompson & Sons, #1 -- a Coleman Cowboys spin-off series)

Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up -- and wearing O'Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O'Kane woman always gets what she wants. (Beyond #3.5, set between Beyond Pain and Beyond Jealousy)

[Quick note - Marked is on sale at Amazon for $2.99 through the month of February!]

The is one of those rare anthologies where I wasn't only happy with one author's story - each one had something unique to offer and provided a glimpse into how each person writes their own HEA's. 

Originally I was only interested in this collection for Lauren Dane's story. She's been a favorite of mine for years and even though this was going to be a foray into a new series for her, I trust her voice and was confident I would enjoy it. Which I did. I think she does a great job grounding her characters in a new future, creating sympathetic people who made choices they had to live by or atone for. I think my only problem, which I admit to being incredibly personal, was that I couldn't detach enough to really believe in how this future had unfolded. I've read too many dystopians where less women equaled less independence (for "protection" reasons) so to see how this society had evolved to revere women was a bit of a surprise. But like I sad - personal problem, I can't really attribute this to anything Dane did or did not do. 

Vivien Arend's story was great, the kind of contemporary erotic romance that I like so much, but Kit Rocha's entry was the biggest surprise for me. I'd heard a lot of good things about her Beyond series but somehow none of the reviews I'd read had pushed me over the edge into giving her a try. Marked was the perfect entry in her world as it not only included cameos by characters in previous books, it also tantalized me with just enough information about the world itself to leave me wanting more. I'm pretty sure though it was the except from Beyond Shame that finally did me in completely - I gotta know what happens!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - Various

*Title won in a Twitter contest*

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan

Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming…

No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri -- as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.


Before I forget I wanted to let you guys know that I checked out Dark Wolf from the library and you know what? It didn't suck nearly as much as I was afraid it would. Lowered expectations for the win! 

I was half hopeful half dread-filled going into this novel because honestly, things could have gone either way for Skyler and Dimitri. Feehan has been one of my favorite PNR loves for what feels like forever, but these last few books have just not been good. With Dark Lycan the series started to be redirected to an enemy other than the vampires/mages and I'm not sure if religious zealotry is totally the best way to go, but we'll see. What really matters here is that the relationship between Skyler and Dimitri, which initially took place off screen, develops in a great way. The two of them have feelings for each other, but no matter how big a physical attraction, the things that happened to her when was a child aren't just going to go away. I loved the way Dimitri was accepting and respectful of Skyer's PTSD episodes and how he even helped her learn to recognize them as a part of her self that couldn't be rejected. 

[Side note - I totally skipped all the healing chants stuff and most of the sex organ flower scenes. I'm glad that I finally checked back in in time to read Dimitri say that their sexual attraction wasn't going to be a magic cure-all, but the rest of it I didn't care about.]

I think I like the way the plot is shaping up and I have my fingers crossed that a particular couple are up next, so I guess I would say I'm tentatively hopeful about things?

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - .... 24) Dark Lycan 25) Dark Wolf

Monday, February 10, 2014

Seducing his Princess by Olivia Gates *ARC Review*

Mohab Aal Ghaanem once had Jala Aal Masood…and lost her. Now, as a new king, he can end the explosive feud between their kingdoms, and fulfill his parting pledge to the princess of Judar…that he would make her his wife.

Marry Mohab? Six years ago, the prince risked his life to save Jala, igniting her desires…only to betray her trust. Now the ruthless seducer is forcing her into a sham marriage. Will it mean a second chance with the man she still craves…or heartbreak when all their dark secrets are revealed?


I have to admit that my feelings about this book are all over the place. The language and cultural references firmly place the story in the Middle East which I liked, but how the characters acted towards each other and the way the plot developed were not my favorite.  

Despite Jala's strong personality she spends most of the book unable to resist Mohab, which seemed far-fetched to me because of their past. Even though Gates makes the heat between them seem real and I can believe to some extent that they have feelings for each other, so much of the book is spent dealing with the lies that have taken place before (or are being told in the present) that I have trouble connecting to Jala. I would have needed more time with her feelings, and I think a deeper understanding of what she has gone through, before their relationship would have really worked for me. Show me that Mohab is not a stalker, and that what they feel for each other is enough to withstand all those years apart. 

It's a decent story with a lot of heat but I think the HEA would have been improved by more time spent on picking apart the emotional connection between the two (and without the sudden reveal at the end of why Jala was so opposed to staying married - I felt that whole thing was unnecessary).

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - 1) The Sheikh's Redemption 2) The Sheikh's Claim 3) The Sheikh's Destiny 4) Seducing His Princess (March 4, 2014)

*Title Requested from NetGalley*

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us….

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

The Grendel Affair was an entertaining start to a new series. Shearin takes some of my favorite things from the urban fantasy genre, namely familiar monsters, mythology, and real world locations, and combines them into an interesting new take on what happens when just a few disgruntled people get their hands on technology that really shouldn't exist.

Mac and her coworkers are quirky in a good way, each one showing the beginnings of a personality that should be great for many books to come. Ultimately that's probably the only place where I'd say this book was lacking: action and plot it had for days, but I wish I'd learned more about the how the people who work at SPI came to be there. But at the same time that probably would have been a huge boring info-dump for one book so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that we continue to learn more in future installments. 

I'd highly recommend this to people looking for a new series in 2014, though it might not appeal to those who like a lot of romance in their book. There are hints of it here but it's not a major plot point or even really something that get's talked about at all until the very end.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) The Grendel Affair 2) The Dragon Conspiracy (Coming 2014)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January in Review

I think I'm going to give myself a break. I don't want to spend every month complaining about how I didn't read enough new material. That's not interested for you guys and honestly it's not a reflection of what my day to day book decisions are like. I enjoy re-reading books. I like immersing myself in the lives of characters/people/worlds that make me happy and life is stressful enough - let's not make reading stressful too. I'm going to continue to keep my eye out for new authors or titles (I even requested Dark Wolf from the library!) but I'm also going to allow myself however many re-reads speak to me and I hope you guys do the same for yourselves. Life's too short for unnecessary stress!

This month might have been all about Lauren Dane and Shelly Laurenston, but I'm easily going to give the favorite title spot to Krentz's newest contemporary romance. Love her!

Inside Out by Lauren Dane
Coming Undone by Lauren Dane
Hope Flames by Jaci Burton (B+)
River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz (A-)
The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston
The Mane Attraction by Shelly Laurenston
The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston
Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston